Swiss woman kidnapped in Yemen says held by al Qaeda

Reuters News
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Posted: May 01, 2012 11:57 AM
Swiss woman kidnapped in Yemen says held by al Qaeda

ADEN (Reuters) - A Swiss woman kidnapped in Yemen in March said in a video posted online on Tuesday that she was being held by al Qaeda and asked Swiss authorities to help secure her release.

"I'm doing more or less good, I'm being treated very well," she said in a short address posted on YouTube, an online video service. "I work in Hudaida and since March 13 I've been kidnapped and I'm in the hands of al Qaeda now."

The authenticity of the recording could not be immediately established.

Switzerland's foreign ministry said it was aware of the video but could not comment on its veracity. The woman's name has not been released officially.

A Swiss woman was kidnapped at gunpoint in the western Red Sea city of Hudaida in March as she left a privately owned language institute where she taught English.

"I ask the Swiss embassy and the Swiss government to do what is necessary... to get me free," she said, wearing a black headscarf and eyeglasses.

In Switzerland, a foreign ministry spokesman could not comment on whether she had indeed been kidnapped by al Qaeda.

"We've taken note of this clip. It will be taken into account in our work to try to get her released," said Jean-Marc Crevoisier, the ministry spokesman.

In the clip, the woman held up a piece of paper with the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) logo, under which the date - 25 November - 1 December 2011 - was circled with a marker.

The significance of the date, which is several months before her kidnap, was not immediately clear.

An interior ministry official last month said the woman's captors had demanded the Yemeni government free their jailed relatives in exchange for her release.

He said they had taken her to their hometown in the southern province of Shabwa and that negotiations for her release between the Yemeni government and the tribesmen were underway.

Kidnappings of foreigners and Yemenis are common in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state. Many are freed unharmed.

A French official of the International Committee of the Red Cross was also kidnapped last month while traveling from northern Yemen to the Red Sea port city of Hudaida.

A tribal source later said he had been transported to the southern town of Jaar, an Islamist militant stronghold, where he is still being held.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf and Tom Miles; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Maria Golovnina)